Portland will field one of eight founding teams in a new women's professional soccer league, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced today.
The league, which will kick off in the spring, pits the Rose City against clubs from Seattle (who you, like, totally already hate), Boston, Chicago, western New York, New Jersey, Kansas City and Washington, D.C.
Two previous attempts at a U.S. women's pro league have failed, but with MLS finding a winning formula in particular markets and the success of the U.S. Women internationally, Timbers owner and new-league-investor Merritt Paulson said he hopes to help build a top-flight women's league Stateside. He noted announcements on team name, logo and uniforms and roster announcements will happen over the coming months.
"The Timbers are, and always will be, steadfastly committed to growing the sport of soccer in our region at all levels," Paulson said, "and championing a new women’s league and operating a team here in Soccer City, USA, will be an important part of that growth."
Paulson and the Timbers were the first MLS ownership group to be involved in the league's launch, and it's still unclear how MLS owners in the other seven cities will be involved (MLSSoccer.com notes Seattle's club will not be owned by Sounders FC, who have a team in the USL's W-League). During the today's announcement, USSF president Sunil Gulati indicated he's open to strengthening ties between the new league and MLS, but either way, he's happy to have Portland—and its excitable fans—on board.
"What made Portland interesting is the Timbers have an extraordinary fan base, the city has been a huge supporter of the game and the investor group led by the Paulson family is as good as it can get," Gulati said. "It's a terrific market with a great track record for the sport."
Want a peek at some potential future Portland players? Well, you're in luck, Portlander: Jeld-Wen Field will host a U.S. Women's national team friendly against Ireland on Nov. 28, along with a public training session on Nov. 27.